Thursday, October 27, 2005

Half empty

Normally, I think Peggy Noonan talks out her genteel, Republican ass, but I can't help but think that she's onto something in this dark assessment of the state of American society. Here, she writes of the detached selfishness of the people who run this nation:

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."

There are a few problems with what she writes. As a friend noted, she's a little too quick to relieve our current president and his predecessor of responsibility for their bad actions, preferring to cast them as victims of historical circumstance. And the successful president to whom she refers, Reagan, did accomplish some good things but also bears responsibility for promoting the everyman-for-himself ethos that Noonan decries.

Still, what she says resonates. I couldn't help but think of a line from the first episode of "The Sopranos", perhaps the last great mafia-as-metaphor drama:

"It's good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that. I know. But lately I'm getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over."

I don't know, but sometimes I get the same feeling.


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